Michael and Mariah have been unleashed, Melbourne is out of lockdown and the silly season is definitely in full swing. But there's no reason why we can’t still be mindful!
Christmas can often be a time that can cause the stress hormones to rise and for people to feel overwhelmed in many ways. Often there is the seemingly never-ending mental load, end of school year events, gifts to be bought and wrapped and plenty of social gatherings (some of which seemed impossible a few months ago). All of this can build-up and create unnecessary stress or pressure and leave you feeling very much over it.
But hang on! Christmas is meant to be a time of peace and joy right? Mindfulness is just the right tool to help decrease the stress hormones. It is a powerful coping strategy to use at the best of times. It helps us to step back, see perspective and be less controlled by our thoughts and feelings. When we practice the skill of mindfulness we can check-in and observe what we are feeling or needing and then take action from there. It supports our overall wellbeing and brings a deeper sense of awareness to what is happening in the moment. It is also a skill that helps to bring self-awareness of our thoughts and to let go of our inner self-judgements that can contribute to the pressure-cooker of Christmas. It truly doesn’t have to be perfect! Mindfulness helps us to recognise the small joys and precious moments that make the holidays season truly special.
So fear not, MKM is here with some tips to help you be more mindful and less stressed this silly season.
Be kind to yourself - It’s been a big few years and there has been a lot going on, so just remember to be kind to yourself. In the season of giving and receiving don’t forget to take time for yourself. Self-compassion and kindness helps to support your wellbeing and reduce anxiety levels. Just remember that no one is perfect and Christmas doesn’t have to be either! So be mindful of your thoughts and try to focus on being positive, helpful and kind to yourself. Remember to just notice and be aware. If they are on a negative path try to acknowledge the emotion and switch your thinking. Take a break when it’s needed.
Manage your expectations - Often we can idolise the image of Christmas that is marketed to us all, and get caught-up in the unrealistic ‘perfect’ Christmas. This can increase stress and our expectations. With less expectations, comes less stress. Also remembering that it is not easy for everyone, being grateful for what you have is also important. When we let go of expectations we also reduce levels of disappointment when things don’t go to plan.
Reduce the socials - It’s time to switch off! Social media is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends, especially in current times when not everyone can spend Christmas with the ones that they care about. But sometimes the ‘Pinterest’ and ‘instagramable’ Christmas can also cause stress and anxieties. So take time out of the socials, you will feel better for it!
Reduce waste - Climate change and the environment is becoming more and more of a focus, so be mindful of ways to reduce your impact on the environment this Christmas. Consider reducing your use of plastic by using paper plates instead of plastic, using recycled wrapping papers and by buying eco-friendly gifts. Some great sites for eco-friendly gift ideas are Banished (https://banish.com.au/) and Seed & Sprout (https://seedsprout.com.au/). Every little bit counts!
Shop locally - being mindful of where you can shop locally to support local small businesses and also reduce your carbon footprint by not having items shipped in from big companies like Amazon. Check out your local markets for unique gifts and ideas. Sometimes the simplest gifts are often the most memorable.
Stay Hydrated - Keeping hydrated is a must during the silly season and the hot summer days. We can all indulge in a few cocktails and beverages while socialising. To help reduce the pain the next day keep hydrated, or even consider some non alcoholic options. Check out https://mindfulmocktail.com/ for some great ideas on creating some fun ‘adult’ beverages. The more hydrated we are, the better we will feel, which will help us to keep enjoying all the moments of the festive season.
Presence and not Presents - The most important gift is your full attention. Kids love Christmas and they love spending it with you. The joy of Christmas is really in the eyes of the little people. How many times have kids been more excited to play with the empty box rather than the toy that came in it? Sometimes it's not about the latest toy or technology but more about the memories made. I know the things I remember most about my family Christmas gatherings aren’t to do with the toys I got, but more in the memories I have with the people I loved, like hugs from grandparents and playing with cousins. You have about 18 years of Christmas with your children before they become true adults in your eyes, so enjoy and be present in the small moments. They are so special.
And as I always say, don't forget to breathe!
The breath is a powerful mindfulness tool that you can call upon at any time. If you find yourself being caught up in feelings of stress or worry, don’t forget to tune into your breath.
Take a moment for yourself with these quick exercises
- Ground yourself using your 5 senses, what you can see, smell, taste, touch and feel.
- 3 deep belly breaths to reset
- Going for a quiet walk for yourself using your senses to observe the nature around you
Christmas is meant to be a moment to savour, so enjoy it! Don’t waste time worrying if the pavlova doesn't look as perfect as Maggie Beers (trust me, it will taste amazing!) or miss out on the joy by not giving your full attention to the little moments. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, so soak it in and have a very mindful and Merry Christmas.
If you are interested in finding out more ways that Mindfulness can support your wellbeing, subscribe and be ready for upcoming workshops for parents and adults.
If you are feeling stressed or anxious, do not disregard it. Reach out for support or seek advice from your GP or health professional.